A little over two weeks ago we took in the most adorable, lovable, rambunctious, hilarious kitten I have ever come into contact with. Simply, he is irresistible and so cute I can barely stand it.
We named him Vincent and he was eight weeks old when he first came to live with us, making him about ten weeks now. He came to us after his previous owner found him to be too needy and he needed to be in a place with people who were home a lot and who could give him the attention he craves so much. He’s needy in the sense that he is pretty adamant on being on you whenever possible and if you don’t pick him up as soon as he sits near your foot, he will cry and if you still don’t pick him up, he will walk around the house crying until you can’t take it anymore, give in, and suddenly spend the next half hour petting and playing with him. What better a match for him than someone who doesn’t leave the house very often and who works in front of a computer all day with ample space for him to crawl up on their lap and nap?
The first week was a pretty intense adjustment for all of us, since we have a cat, Devin, who is nearly four years old who was none too pleased with a new kitten attempting to take over. Devin had a whole lot of jealousy going on and was very territorial; for a few days she was downright pissed at me and my partner and every time we would even pet Vincent, she would give us this look that I could only decode as “How could you do this to me!?” but now she has taken Vincent under her wing so to speak, and they’re sleeping all curled up together every day and playing whenever they’re not sleeping or fighting over each other’s food bowls.
More pictures after the jump.Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I had intended to write about this back in August, when practically every few minutes a new report or news story would be spreading like wildfire around Twitter and Facebook, claiming that the “Ground Zero mosque” would be the ultimate sign of disrespect to the people who lost their lives there, that it would be a training ground for terrorists, that it undermines everything America stands for, that the U.S. would inevitably be turned into an Islamic society where we would all be forced to operate under Shariah law, and the list goes on and on.
After sitting on this for a few days and seeing the news stories die down, I figured that I would be coming in a little late with this and decided to scrap the whole post and just move on. Then the news stories picked up again and to this day, you can’t spend a few minutes online or pick up a newspaper or magazine without seeing this whole insidious debate continue. After reading a whole lot of news stories about this, the only thing I have deduced from the dissenting viewpoints, the outrage and the political commentary is that what this “Ground Zero mosque” debate has really turned into is Muslim panic.
Just like with the Red Scare where the American people were hunting down Communists who were believed to be influencing society and the government from 1947 to 1957, the same is being done today; we have merely just replaced the word Communist with the word Terrorism. We are feeding off of the fear that has been instilled into the American people’s minds, just like it was in the ’40s and ’50s, in order to create Muslim panic. There is a very strong “us and them” vibe to the country right now where no one has yet realized that there are Muslim people and Muslim extremists and they are different.
Another thing that hasn’t received much media coverage, surprise surprise, is that there was a real “Ground Zero mosque” and it was on the 17th floor of the World Trade Center’s south tower. Muslims had a place within the World Trade Center, so why should they not be allowed to even have something to do with a building in Manhattan blocks away from Ground Zero? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
Keith Olbermann aired a Special Comment in mid-August about the community center, not a mosque, that will be built blocks away from Ground Zero, not right on top of it and not right across the street. As always with Keith Olbermann Special Comments, he got it right.
Transcript after the jump. Read moreWednesday, August 25, 2010
A few months ago, after that whole EdenFantasys fiasco went down and several people, including myself, were banned from the site, I hooked up with the superbly awesome Shanna Katz who is the Online Media Specialist for Fascinations. Shortly after, I began reviewing kick ass sex toys for Fascinations and while in discussions about that, she also brought up the idea of me writing some articles for the Fascinations sex ed section. I can’t tell you how fast I jumped on that. Oh wait, yes I can–very, very fast. Incredibly fast. So fast that it took me approximately seven seconds to send an email back with a very enthusiastic (well, as enthusiastic you can be in text anyway) yes. Yes.
And so I started writing about sex and sexuality. I haven’t written much, just a few articles so far with quite a few more ideas jiggling around up there in that brain of mine that I have yet to sit down and type out. After writing a few articles, working through ideas for a few more and pitching some other ideas for the go-ahead to start writing them, it became very clear what I would mostly be writing about, and that would be BDSM.
BDSM essentially breaks down into bondage, discipline, domination, submission and sado-masochism. While the feminist blogosphere and community at large like to think they are educating and encouraging people to explore their sexuality in a safe, responsible manner that fulfills them, I think there is a severe lack of discussion on BDSM when it comes to sexuality and sex-positivity. There’s a lot of reasons for this, primarily because of the amount of negativity that has already been attached to BDSM and also because of the gross misconception that strong, independent women cannot or should not find immense happiness and fulfillment by allowing another person to dominate them. But that’s a discussion for a whole other article–an article that I actually plan on writing soon, so I’ll let you all know just as soon as something comes of that.
For now though, I wanted to share with you all one of my articles that was recently published over in the sex education section at Fascinations, Defining Safe Words and How to Choose One. Here’s a taste:
Friday, August 20, 2010
A safe word is a word, or phrase if you prefer, that has been previously talked about and agreed upon that when said, will immediately bring a scene to an end without anything being left up to interpretation. Safe words are important, and in my opinion, absolutely necessary. It does not matter whether you have a long-term partner that you trust completely or are just starting out with someone new; safe words keep everyone involved safe, comfortable, and secure in knowing that at all times, the other person is fully consenting to what is going on.
The reason why safe words exist and why people who engage in BDSM insist upon having one is because it is easy for the words “ouch”, “stop”, and “no” to slip out without really wanting your partner to stop what they are doing. In a considerably “normal” sexual encounter, when a person says “no” for any reason, it is meant for the person that they are with to stop what they are doing and if they fail to stop, then that is called sexual assault and that is a crime. When it comes to BDSM, or really any sexual encounter where you have communicated to your partner that you may not want them to stop as part of play or fantasy—even if you tell them to or when you say “no,” that is when your previously agreed upon safe word will come to save the day. Again, if you do not use your safe word throughout your encounter, you will be letting your partner know that you are comfortable, feel safe, and are consenting to what they are doing. It is for that reason that I think that the use of safe words are tremendously important and non-negotiable; they must be implemented for the safety of everyone involved and they must be respected and adhered to at all times.
A few months ago, Constance McMillen, a young woman from Mississippi, made international headlines after her school forbade her from attending her prom because she wanted to wear a tuxedo and go with her girlfriend. Rather than letting this young woman attend her prom–something that she was entitled to do as a graduating student of her class–the school issued a statement saying that they were canceling prom for all students; they then ended up sending Constance to a “decoy” prom while most of her other classmates attended the real prom 30 miles away.
In Constance’s case, Itawamba Agricultural High School ultimately paid Constance $35,000, as well as her attorney’s fees and a court entered a judgment against the school. They school also agreed to create a Student Non-Discrimination Act to protect students from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
While most, if not all of us have heard all about the discrimination and just plain hurtful things inflicted upon Constance McMillen by people in authority, apparently news of retribution doesn’t travel very fast in Mississippi since another Mississippi school is openly discriminating against a GLBTQ student. This time, the case is about a Mississippi school feeling that it is well within their rights to erase a student from her yearbook because she does not fit into a traditional and accepted gender stereotype.
Wesson Attendance Center excluded Ceara Sturgis from her senior class yearbook because she wore a tuxedo instead of a drape for her senior portrait.
In the high school yearbook portraits for some schools, all of the boys wear tuxedos and all of the girls wear a drape–a piece of fabric that is draped (ah, I get the name now!) across the chest and is made to look like a dress or nice blouse. Ceara, who is said to have always dressed in clothes that are “traditionally associated with boys,” a remark I could not help but made a very ugly facial expression towards when reading, attempted to pose for her portrait wearing the drape, but felt extremely uncomfortable doing so. She asked her mother to request that she wear a tuxedo instead, which the photographer agreed to. While the photographer didn’t have a problem with Ceara wearing a tuxedo instead of a drape in her portrait, the principal of her school sure did and he told Ceara that he would not allow the photo to be published in the yearbook. Ceara’s mother as well as the ACLU attempted to resolve the issue with Ceara’s senior portrait not appearing in the yearbook quietly, but despite their best efforts, when Ceara received her yearbook, not only was her senior portrait missing, her name was also excluded.
The ACLU has filed a complaint against Copiah County School District in Ceara Sturgis’ name, saying that Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on sex and sex stereotypes, and the Constitution’s 14th Amendment for the guarantee of equal protection, prohibit school officials from forcing students to conform to gender stereotypes.
For a school to downright exclude a member of their student body from something that is indeed a rite of passage for graduating students is appalling, especially when the reasoning behind it is based on nothing but ignorance and bigotry. But close-mindedness can only be used as a reason for discrimination for so long. We teach children when they are toddlers that it is okay to be themselves and that they are going to meet other kids who may be different than they are–and that’s okay. It isn’t such a radical idea to accept someone as they are and to extend to them the same rights that are given to others. Someone please, give the Wesson Attendance Center administration a copy of Free to Be…You and Me. We have some major schooling to do.
Help raise awareness and support for Ceara Sturgis and for equality regardless of gender identity and expression by joining the Facebook support page and contact your legislators and urge them to sign the Student Non-Discrimination Act so GLBTQ students do not have to live in fear of simply being themselves, knowing that at any time they can be openly discriminated against by the very same people they are told they should respect.Monday, August 9, 2010
I saw the following call for submission posted on Womanist Musings last week and almost immediately after coming across it, asked Renee for permission to re-post it here. The subject matter is most definitely very close to my heart. As a survivor of sexual violence, I really wish I had something like this at my disposal when I had convinced myself that what was truly the breaking down of my pent-up psyche and repressed memories was just me going out of my mind and that there was nothing anyone could do to help me. An anthology like this one would have most definitely saved me years of my life that I went through feeling completely and utterly alone, damaged and withdrawn from the world I felt I just was not ready to go out into.
“Survival is testament of someone’s strength.
Healing is testament of the community surrounding her.” –LFB
Call For Submissions
Dear Sister, edited by Lisa Factora-Borchers, is an anthology of letters and other works created for survivors of sexual violence from other survivors and allies. It is a collection of hope and strength through words and art.
The pathway for a survivor of rape and sexual violence is an unlit road of pain, isolation and doubt. In the weeks, months and oftentimes, years following, the healing process can be difficult to navigate without a community surrounding her. Imagine a compilation of literary arms bound together to offer words of understanding, solidarity and love. Dear Sister is an accessible and inclusive offering of hope, voice and courage; seeking writers and artists who wish to light a piece of that road and lift up other women in her healing.
It is an impossible task to write a letter to every survivor of rape, to every woman who lives with an invisible scar. Instead of thinking of the face of the person you are writing to, reflect on the image of an unlit path, a road with no clear footing. Your offering will be one light, among many, to make visible what was previously unseen, to illuminate what was hidden. You are providing a few more steps for someone to walk steadily toward their own recovery. Your words can be an anchor, a meditation, a prayer, a strong embrace or a gentle touch. The purpose of this anthology is not to retell stories of assault, but to help others regain a sense of balance and wholeness.
Mindfully move beyond what is commonly said and reflect upon radical companionship. Write what you wish for her to know and never forget. And if you lose focus, look deep into a mirror and reflect: What would you want to be told if you were in the darkness?
Dear Sister primarily seeks letters but will accept poems, prose, essay and drawn art that can either be scanned for entry. Maximum word count is 1,000. Deadline for submission is November 1, 2010.
Women and transpeople of any race, creed, background, citizenship or non-citizen, ability and identity are encouraged to submit their words and work to uplift others in the healing stages of post trauma and violence. Both English and Spanish are accepted. All questions can be directed to email@example.com.
Submissions can be emailed as an attachment with “Dear Sister Entry” in the subject to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hand written letters can be address and mailed to:
Dear Sister Anthology
P.O. Box 202468
Cleveland, OH 44120
Note from the Editor
Rape and sexual violence thrive in the silence of our homes and communities. Outreach must be wide and intentional if we seek to hear from those who are silenced. Please forward this to as many individuals, groups, organizations, listserves, websites and agencies that come to mind.